RPA and Cybersecurity: Ensuring Data Protection

RPA and Cybersecurity: Ensuring Data Protection


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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been gaining widespread adoption in recent years thanks to its ability to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks previously performed by humans. However, while RPA offers several benefits, it poses significant cybersecurity risks, especially regarding data protection.

In this blog, we’ll look closer at the relationship between RPA and cybersecurity and discuss ways to ensure data protection. (Read More about “RPA Implementation: Tips for a Successful Rollout”)

What Exactly is RPA in Cybersecurity?

RPA in cybersecurity refers to using robotic process automation bots to protect companies from cyberattacks and enhance their cybersecurity. RPA bots automate repetitive tasks by simulating human interactions with GUI elements, limiting errors caused by human involvement, reducing human exposure to confidential data, and lowering the cost of a data breach, as shown below.

What Are the Top RPA Uses in Cybersecurity?

Investigating cyber threats entails repetitive tasks and processes that can be automated using RPA to save time and free cybersecurity analysts to concentrate on more complex problems. RPA can be used for the following purposes:

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Automating Data Enrichment Tasks

Most data-related tasks needed for cybersecurity alerts can be automated using RPA bots. They can perform these duties at a large scale and assist humans in focusing on cases that are likely to be dangerous. Among these duties are:
  • Looking IP addresses
  • Obtaining URL information
  • Domain investigation
  • Obtaining records
  • Account inquiry
  • Automating Privileged Data Management

    Manipulation or sharing of sensitive data is part of privileged data administration. Human error is thought to be responsible for 95% of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, such as:

    Sending valuable or confidential information to erroneous email addresses

    By accident, personal data was published on public networks.
    Misconfiguration of assets to enable unauthorized access

    RPA bots can handle privileged data entry, updates, and transfer via email or messaging apps, removing human errors that cause system gaps and make them vulnerable to attacks.

    Eliminating Unauthorized Access

    Using RPA bots to perform specific tasks keeps unauthorized users from accessing confidential or private data. Furthermore, bots can grant people with credentials access to designated sources, monitor their activity, and log their data and activities to create a clear audit trail of sensitive data access.

    Running Cyber Threat Searches

    Cyber threat hunting is repeatedly searching networks for sophisticated threats and isolating them. When done manually, it takes time because cybersecurity analysts must sift through a large volume of network data to look for indicators of possible threats. It was estimated that it would take 170 days to discover an advanced threat, 39 days to mitigate, and 43 days to recover.

    Cybersecurity researchers can use AI-enabled RPA bots to automate searching for odd network traffic, unusual privileged user account activity, login anomalies, database-increased read volumes, and suspicious registry or system file changes.

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    Running Penetration Assessments

    Penetration or pen tests are simulations of cyber-attacks performed on organizations’ computers and systems to assess system security and find security gaps. RPA bots can be programmed to engage with systems in specific ways, scan them, collect the necessary data, initiate actions, and generate reports according to the results of the pen test simulation.

    Anti-malware and Viruses

    When vulnerabilities or inconsistencies are found in a system, RPA bots can automatically implement security controls. Furthermore, if RPA bots receive an antivirus alert or notification, they will:

    Prevention of Unauthorised Access

    Using RPA bots to perform specific tasks keeps unauthorized users from accessing confidential or private data. Furthermore, bots can grant people with credentials access to designated sources, monitor their activity, and log their data and activities to create a clear audit trail of sensitive data access.

    Eliminating Unauthorized Access

    Using RPA bots to perform specific tasks keeps unauthorized users from accessing confidential or private data. Furthermore, bots can grant people with credentials access to designated sources, monitor their activity, and log their data and activities to create a clear audit trail of sensitive data access.

    1. Classify the alert based on threat groups.
    2. Based on the identified alert, initiate a security control.
    3. Create a threat report and submit it to the cybersecurity team.

    Software Update

    Software updates are necessary for cybersecurity because they frequently include essential security patches. For example, in 2017, the American credit bureau Equifax was the target of a cyber attack that compromised the personal information of 143 million individuals.

    The cyber attack was made possible by a vulnerability in a web application addressed in a recent software update that Equifax failed to activate. RPA bots can detect pop-ups about software updates and notify the IT staff.

    AI-powered RPA bots can also be programmed to look for the most recent software upgrade online, download it, and initiate an updated workflow. As a result, automating software updates will eliminate the risk of cyber attacks caused by software gaps. (Read More about “RPA for Data Entry: Automating Mundane Tasks”)

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    What are the Drawbacks of RPA?

    Although RPA bots can greatly simplify cybersecurity processes, they can also bring the risk of data leakage and fraud. Some risks associated with using RPA in defense include the ones listed below:

    1. Abuse of Bot Credentials

    Users accessing the bot that handles sensitive data may use their credentials to program the bot to transmit specific data to their addresses. However, assigning each bot to a particular user ensures bot operators are held accountable.

    2. System Downtime

    Bot downtime can occur due to a rapid series of bot activity, a lack of upkeep, or unexpected network failures. If a bot that detects cybersecurity warnings drops, its confidential data becomes vulnerable. As a result, it is critical to constantly check bots for vulnerabilities and simulate threats to expose system flaws and gaps.

    3. A Cybersecurity Attack on the RPA Bot

    According to a 2018 survey, a cybersecurity attack against automation or RPA in a big company is expected to:
  • (40%) impede operations/manufacturing
  • (39%) compromise sensitive info
  • harm product quality (32%).
  • Cause substantial property damage(29%).
  • Endanger human life (22%).
  • Here Are Some Statistics and Analytics Related to RPA and Cybersecurity

    1. The market for robotic process automation is projected to expand at a CAGR of 19.5% between 2020 and 2025, increasing from its current value of $1.59 billion to $1.89 billion. This prediction comes from a Gartner study.

    2. Cybersecurity Ventures says that hacking will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

    3. The Ponemon Institute found that the typical data breach cost $3.86 million in 2020, up 10% from 2019.

    4. RPA implementation can lead to potential cybersecurity risks such as unauthorized access to data, malicious activities by insiders, and compromised credentials.

    5. Organizations are implementing various cybersecurity measures to mitigate these risks, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, access controls, and audit trails.

    6. A report by Forrester Research suggests that organizations should integrate RPA with their overall cybersecurity strategy to protect sensitive data.

    7. According to a survey by Deloitte, only 5% of organizations have fully integrated RPA with their cybersecurity strategy, indicating the need for increased awareness and implementation of cybersecurity measures in RPA processes.

    What Are the Finest RPA Implementation Practices in Cybersecurity?

    Businesses can avoid the risks connected with RPA by implementing the following best practices:
  • Give each program a distinct ID and proceed.
  • Employees or IT workers can rotate bot credentials.
  • Create an audit trail by recording bot operations.
  • Conduct regulatory checks on bots to look for flaws or inconsistencies.
  • To impose passwords within activity sessions, use encrypted password management tools.
  • Following best practices for RPA implementation is critical to guarantee a long-term RPA deployment and avoid pitfalls.

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    The Bottom Line

    RPA is a superior technology that can improve efficiency and productivity. However, it poses potential cybersecurity risks that must be addressed. By implementing the above measures, companies can ensure that their RPA implementation is secure and that sensitive data is protected.


    Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is a technology that automates routine and repetitive business processes using software machines. (Read more about Understanding RPA and its Various Industry Applications)
    RPA can impact cybersecurity in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, RPA can improve security operations’ effectiveness while lowering the possibility of human error. However, on the other hand, RPA can introduce new vulnerabilities and threats if not properly secured.
    RPA robots can access sensitive data and systems, which can be compromised if hacked or manipulated. Additionally, if RPA robots are not correctly configured or maintained, they can introduce errors or cause system failures that can impact data security.
    Some best practices for ensuring data protection in RPA include
  • Limiting access to sensitive data and systems
  • Using strong authentication and authorization controls for RPA robots
  • Implementing encryption for data in transit and at rest
  • Regularly monitoring and auditing RPA activity
  • Regularly updating and patching RPA software
  • Organizations can ensure that RPA vendors are following good cybersecurity practices by:
  • Conducting due diligence on vendors before purchasing RPA software
  • Reviewing and validating the security controls and procedures of RPA vendors
  • Requiring RPA vendors to adhere to industry-standard security frameworks, such as ISO 27001 or NIST
  • Regularly assessing the security posture of RPA vendors through audits or assessments.
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